Player's Own Voice

Player's Own Voice podcast: Canada's Aaron Brown has sharp ideas about business of track

CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice podcast chats with the Canadian Sprinter who wants to see more widespread professional incomes among track and field athletes.

World champion relay sprinter dissects economic model of high-performance sport

Aaron Brown celebrates a win after the final in the men's 4x100-meter relay at the world athletics championships on Saturday, July 23, 2022, in Eugene, Ore. (Charlie Riedel/The Associated Press)

Canadian Sprinter Aaron Brown is a quick thinker. Not just in the literal sense — he has perfected physical speed, as befits a world champion 4x100-metre relay racer. But every track and field athlete tries to do that.

What sets Brown apart is how he analyzes and dissects the entire economic model of high-performance sport. For someone who is so ready to reassure that he isn't a radical, a lot of Brown's questions might rattle nerves among the money managers at the peak of the Olympic pyramid.

Brown doesn't worry about the superstars, the household names on the track, because the athletic one per cent has sneaker deals and opportunities aplenty. It's everyone else he sees struggling to make ends meet. One hundredth of a second might make the difference between being famous in the finals, and toiling in the ninth lane, slinging coffee in the off-season.

Brown's point is that in no other profession do we see only a handful at the apex actually making a  living. 

How might profit sharing be put into practise? Brown considers paydays from the loftiest IOC execs, down through the ranks to the athletes and coaches whose labour. To Brown's thinking, has never been fairly rewarded.

Brown's ideas get to the heart of track and field as a profession. He recognizes that  NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB salaries might be out of reach, but urges track Olympians to consider business models more like golf or tennis, where athletes are well paid, and not entirely dependent on a windfall every four years, when the Olympics roll around.

As he makes clear to Anastasia Bucsis on this fast-moving edition of Player's Own Voice podcast: All the athletes are thinking it. He just happens to be saying it out loud.

To read Aaron Brown's recent piece about the business of track in CBC Sports' Player's Own Voice essay series...

There is a transcript of this podcast for our hard-of-hearing audience. To listen to Aaron Brown, Kaylyn Kyle, Kurt Browning, Bianca Farella, Summer McIntosh, Beckie Sauerbrunn or any of the guests from earlier seasons,  go to CBC Listen or wherever else you get your podcasts.

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